I am finding myself deeply moved, challenged, and stirred by the baby of an unwed mother living in poverty in a rural, isolated, back-water town. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Isn’t that where and how the God of the universe showed up?
It may not be what you think. A couple weeks ago our family sponsored Theresia through Compassion International. Theresia lives with her mom and two siblings in an impoverished rural AIDS-infected area of Tanzania. She will be five in early January. She is precious and important beyond what she has any way of knowing. She is loved.
Predictions are picking up in the media about how dismal this Christmas season will be. The defining measurements are consumer spending and credit availability. Maybe especially because of this year’s economic challenges, Theresia’s influence on my heart helps to put it all in perspective.
The little town of Bethlehem was buzzing in a flurry of activity on that first Christmas. People were traveling great distances to be there. Inns were filling up. There were family reunions and festive parties. All of those pouring into that otherwise sleepy little town were there to fulfill the obligation to show up (Luke 2:1-3). It was all good. Other than hints in Biblical prophesy (e.g. Micah 5:2), they had no way of knowing why they were really there, what was really happening and the meaning of what they were missing. They were so close to it! In all the flurry of activity, in the least likely of places, God showed up.
That’s what hits me every time I walk past Theresia’s picture on our refrigerator. I want to pick her up and give her a hug. Her eyes, life, and new found place in our family provide ballast for my heart. God is using her to stir me to want to serve more and to care more. He is using her to help reorient my heart. I don’t want to miss why we are really here, what is really happening and the meaning of what we are really celebrating. I can be so close. Mother Teresa once said “It’s the greatest poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” Her words are hard; but that is her point. Jesus said “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).
Interestingly, Theresia’s full name means “little harvester.” God is using Compassion to reach her with His unfathomable love by showing up in the least likely of places, as the world measures things. Half way around the world, Jesus is showing up to harvest my heart through this baby of an unwed mother living in poverty in a rural, isolated, back-water town. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? That’s where and how the God of the universe shows up.
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